Hollywood Weekly Magazine is suing Netflix, CBS Studios, Paramount and Imagine Television for trademark and copyright infringement, unfair business practices and unjust enrichment for the use of the “Tiger King” trademark, which the publication owns. They are claiming that it’s unwanted association with the hit Netflix series is harming its reputation.
According to the complaint, the magazine claims that it founded the term “Tiger King” in reference to the main character of the hit series, Joe Exotic, in 2013, despite only filing a trademark application in July of this year. They claim that the nickname was exclusively used for its profiles of the eccentric zookeeper until the Netflix series premiered this year.
“Recently after the Series was distributed for streaming, Plaintiffs for the first time were receiving comments from advertisers as to when HWM became a tabloid gossip magazine when the fundamental pillar of HWM is and always has been ‘No Gossip, Strictly Entertainment’ and always highly respected and well-known for this brand,” Attorney Michael F. Frank wrote in the complaint. The magazine is also unhappy that its publication was displayed in the series.
“The Series literally uses the [Tiger King mark] in its title, throughout the video, and then even shows issues of the HWM Publication itself within the video Series as well showing that they knew about it, accessed it, had access to it, and we’re even using it in the Series itself, thus establishing the [mark] was neither separately created nor developed by Defendants,” Frank also said.
As a result of the unwanted feature, HWM now alleges that its advertisers have pulled back from doing business with them because of the “very easily plausible and obvious connection” with “a tawdry television program.” The entertainment company is seeking damages and disgorgement of profits as well as the complete removal of the series and all related advertising.
Netflix, CBS Studios and Imagine have not commented on the lawsuit.
“Tiger King” is currently Netflix’s most viewed of all time. Multiple spinoff projects are already in the works.